Lexus IS 250

27 Dec, 2012 10:30am Tom Phillips

We get behind the wheel of a prototype of the all-new Lexus IS, ahead of its launch next year


The all-new Lexus IS will offer a genuine alternative to rivals like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. But while some people might have bought the previous IS just to be different, the new car offers significant quality and driving experience improvements over the old one. Add a high spec and top-notch dealers, and it looks like a serious challenger.

Lexus IS sales are currently split around 50:50 between fleet and retail customers. And while the new hybrid IS 300h will be aimed at the former market, private buyers are still expected to opt for the IS 250, powered by the 2.5-litre petrol engine from the current car.

Our test car was disguised and the model won’t be unveiled until next month’s Detroit Motor Show, but its looks will be inspired by the LF-CC concept. The new IS uses the same platform as the latest GS, giving a longer wheelbase and wider track than the current car.

Inside, there’s more space, particularly in the rear, while the front seats are now mounted lower, meaning a sportier driving position and extra headroom.

A higher centre console will also feature, along with improved trim materials – judging from the parts of the interior left exposed on our test car. The gearshifter has a higher-quality feel, too.

On the move, the V6 makes the same sonorous noise as before, although it’s not quite as smooth as Jaguar’s latest 3.0-litre V6 for the XF and XJ. Performance is sharp, however: the petrol engine and auto box combination is more responsive than the hybrid’s drivetrain.

Steering and braking are more precise, too, and you can tailor the driving experience with Drive Mode Select, which offers Eco, Normal or Sport S settings.

Disqus - noscript

They still need to produce a decent diesel to be taken seriously, the current Toyota one is poor compared to any of its competitors

I'm sure the new IS will indeed be a serious challenger to rivals. A car I always admired and nearly purchased a few years back. The MK1 was sharp to drive and look at although the MK2 was perhaps a little more comfort orientated.
As a petrol head I also like the way Lexus ignore the diesel market in favour of more high tech hybrids. The current diesel was only really to keep fleet drivers happy in Europe. Their hybrid technology is also something BMW are looking to get a piece of.

Its slower than a Mondeo 2.2 diesel estate, I love decent petrol engines, but this doesn't appear to be one, it might be smooth, but its way down on power and performance for what is supposed to be a sports saloon.

Without diesel engines it won't challenge any o fhte big 3 in Europe. Presumably there will be a hybrid. There'll have to make folding rear seats this time which wasn't available the last time.

Think of Lexus and the next thought inevitably is petrol followed by America. That's where Lexus sells well. Here in England we're not exactly strangers to Lexus. Its been around for a while. The marque stands out for sticking to petrol power in a land where diesel has almost assumed the status of religion and its clatter is often affectionately described as purring of a cat.
Now that Toyota is sharing its elusive hybrid technology with BMW may be they can use a BMW diesel engine in Lexus to sell a few Lexus IS here.

Again, Toyota Hybrid technology, doesnt work as well as billed in the real world, its meant to be green, but the the way the batteries are produced is far from it, they are not anywhere as economical as they are supposed to be. A modern diesel engine is by far the best compromise, and its not just the UK saying that, its the whole of Europe, and even America are starting to wake up to the idea. The age of petrol is not dead, Fords new 1.0 is a revelation, but big displacements and multi cylinder engines are being replaced by smaller more efficient engines with the same power, and 4 cylinders or less.

Your answer raises more questions than it answers in this great debate - petrol vs diesel.
Would you like to elaborate yourself? Have you any facts and figures to back up your condescending claims. Is this merely your opinion?
If this is your opinion I respect that.
I however prefer petrol over diesel.

I prefer petrol, however I dont belive hybrids are the real answer and are not as economical as stated, electric cars are a joke, BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar and Volvo are all putting massive investment into 4 cylinder turbo petrol engines, Hybrids will be IMO reserved for 6 or 8 cylinder vehicles to make them more eco friendly around town to dodge paying massive taxes, a decent modern diesel will match and better the mpg of even the best hybrid of the same capacity.

Key specs

  • Price: £30,500 (est)
  • Engine: 2.5-litre V6, 205bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph/Top speed: 8.5 secs/140mph
  • Economy/CO2: 35mpg/190g/km (est)
  • Equipment: Sports suspension, 18-inch wheels, Drive Mode Select
  • On sale: June